Bloglines vs. Google Reader

By dylanbdylanb (1222738751|%a, %b %e at %I:%M%p)

I have used RSS feeds extensively in the last year or so since I started my own blog. The value of RSS feeds to track a subject extensively day in and day out is unbelievable. There are many solutions to keep track of RSS feeds, the two most popular are Bloglines and Google Reader. I am an avid Google Reader user.



The first thing I wanted to do was see if more people were using Bloglines or Google Reader. I found this article from Hitwise tracking the market share (graph to the left). The article also had another chart, about where users are headed from their Google Reader page. Google seems to have a bigger share of the News and Media section. This is somewhat surprising because I feel that would be the biggest use of these readers and they are still trailing blog lines.


The next thing I checked was what users that subscribe to my blog's RSS feed use to get their RSS. Using a tool called FeedBurner I can get statistics on subscribers to my RSS feed and also offer e-mail updates through the RSS feed.

Here is the pie chart of RSS readers on my blog:


I find it interesting that the majority of my readers don't even use an RSS reader at all, they are just getting whatever I write delivered straight to their inbox. However it turns out that the majority of my users who do use an RSS reader are using Google Reader (or iGoogle, both run on the Google Feedfetcher technology). Software solutions like Firefox and Windows/IE make up another chunk, while Bloglines is only at 3%. We didn't talk about NetVibes much in class but it is apparently quite popular as the customizable home page accounts for 8% of my subscribers.

So what does all this data mean? It means there are lot's of quality RSS tools out there and finding the right one for you is key.

Comparing Features

So which is better? I am torn, so I am going to goto a pros and cons of each.

Google Reader

  • Off-line Reader (new)
  • Keyboard Shortcuts
  • More lightweight feed discovery — search for feeds easier than searching for articles. I like this format much better because I can find websites I like and then follow them. It seems to "just work" better than Bloglines discovery method.
  • Starred Items — I also like this system better than Bloglines "keep as unread" option for keeping track of things you want to go back to.


  • Playlists — Very cool feature, allows you to make pages with headlines from selected feeds.
  • Keyboard short cuts - Also has keyboard short cuts but not nearly as snappy with the "j" jump button between articles like Google Reader.
  • BETA! Upgrades VERY old frames look of old version. 3 pane view with headlines and content like Outlook for example.
  • Bloglines Logo logs you out. This drives me crazy, I typically click a logo to go back to some sort of home screen, not get all together kicked out of the system. This is fixed in the beta!


In conclusion, I think I will stick to Google Reader, at least until the Bloglines Beta is finalized. This is probably a large matter of personal preference and maybe I am just Google-person (as I write this in Google Chrome). But Google even does the little things like keep track of what blogs I read and give me a whole data sheet of trends.

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